How to Paint Faces on Miniatures

Written by suzie faloon
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How to Paint Faces on Miniatures
Miniature figures can be painted with intricate details. ( Images)

Miniature figurine artistry is used in model building, gaming, military scenes and dioramas. Hobbyists and professionals buy or sculpt miniature figurines for historical, nature and fantasy projects. A small dedicated work area or desktop is ideal for painting miniature figurines. The hobby requires very little space. The faces on a miniature person or creature is likely to be as small as 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch wide. With practice you will be able to paint a realistic face with detailing on the miniature head.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Table lamp with fluorescent bulb
  • Paint pot, wood block or vice
  • Sticky putty or tape
  • Number 00, 0 and 1 paint brushes
  • Acrylic paint in small pots
  • Palette
  • Water container
  • Magnifying glass

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  1. 1

    Set up a work area with a table or desk lamp for the best lighting possible. A magnifying glass attachment or handheld piece is a benefit for fine detail work.

  2. 2

    Secure the miniature figurine on to a temporary base such as an empty paint pot, small block of wood or a miniature vice. You can set the figurine on to a small amount of sticky putty and place it on to the pot or wood block to secure it. Another alternative is to wrap electrical or painter's tape backwards (with the sticky side exposed) around the end of a camera film canister or piece of wood. Press the base of the figurine against the tape adhesive to hold it in place for painting. This leaves your hands free to turn the figurine and paint it.

  3. 3

    Dab a small amount of medium flesh coloured paint onto a palette to aid in keeping a very small amount on the paintbrush during the painting process. Dip the paintbrush into the paint and gently touch it against the palette until the brush end comes to a point.

  4. 4

    Coat the entire face with a light layer of coloured acrylic paint using the number 1 brush. The paint should be a medium flesh tone. Let the paint dry for at least one hour. Touch the painted surface and if there is a tacky or sticky feel, it is not dry enough. Wash the brush off in a container of clean water.

  5. 5

    Add a small amount of a bronze flesh or darker flesh colour to the palette. Lightly brush this deeper colour in the eye sockets, under the lips, the sides of the nose and along the temples and cheek bones of the miniature face with the number 1 brush. Brush a fine line of the colour along the line of the nose. Shade the interior of the ears. If you get too much paint on any area, pick it up by touching it with a clean, dry paintbrush.

  6. 6

    Brush a light flesh tone coloured paint to highlight the brow area, tip of the nose, top of the cheeks and chin using a number 00 or 0 brush. Highlights are applied to the raised areas of the face. Use a magnifying glass to help you see the tiny areas to be painted.

  7. 7

    Choose a 00 brush with a very fine point to paint the eyes. Barely touch the brush point to black paint. Brush the entire oval eye with black paint. Make sure that the painted eye is smoothly filled in. Hold the model figure upside down to paint the eyes if the nose gets in the way. You need to be able to see both eyes to get them evenly placed. Dry for 45 minutes to an hour.

  8. 8

    Paint a tiny dab of white paint at each corner of the eye. Dab a small round dot of brown or blue paint in the eye centre if. Let the paint dry for at least 45 minutes. Add a tiny white dot to the colour in the eye to give it a realistic look.

  9. 9

    Brush a fine line of a chestnut or brown coloured paint mixed with a dab of red across the bottom lip of the mouth. Paint the top lip only if it is to have the appearance of lipstick. Let dry for at least 45 minutes. Lightly dab white paint on to the teeth if the mouth is partly open.

Tips and warnings

  • Clean the brushes thoroughly with water after each colour use. Shape the ends to a point after the paint has been removed from the bristles.
  • You can also use the pointed end of a toothpick to paint extremely tiny spots on the miniature face.
  • All excess metal or plastic must be removed before the face is painted. Lines from the manufacturer's mould will be noticeable under the paint. Wire cutters will remove metal while a craft knife can be used to shave plastic from the figurine.

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